Pliny the Elder.

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1. The two Mauritanias 374

2. Numidia 387

3. Africa 388

4. The Syrtes 391

5. Cyrenaica 395

6. Libya Mareotis 401

7. The islands in the vicinity of Africa 402

8. Countries on the other side of Africa 403

9. Egypt and Thebais 406

10. The River Nile 410

11. The cities of Egypt 416

12. The coasts of Arabia, situate on the Egyptian Sea 422

13. Syria 423

14. Idumæa, Palæstina, and Samaria 424

15. Judæa 427

16. Decapolis 431

17. Phœnice 433

18. Syria Antiochia 436

19. The remaining parts of Syria 438

20. The Euphrates 441

21. Syria upon the Euphrates 443

22. Cilicia and the adjoining nations 446

23. Isauria and the Homonades 450

24. Pisidia 451

25. Lycaonia _ib._

26. Pamphylia 452

27. Mount Taurus 453

28. Lycia 455

29. Caria 458

30. Lydia 465

31. Ionia 466

32. Æolis 472

33. Troas and the adjoining nations 476

34. The islands which lie in front of Asia 479

35. Cyprus 480

36. Rhodes 483

37. Samos 485

38. Chios 486

39. Lesbos 487

40. The Hellespont and Mysia 488

41. Phrygia 490

42. Galatia and the adjoining nations 491

43. Bithynia 493

44. The islands of the Propontis 496


BOOK I.[34]



This treatise on Natural History, a novel work in Roman literature,
which I have just completed, I have taken the liberty to dedicate to
you, most gracious[35] Emperor, an appellation peculiarly suitable to
you, while, on account of his age, that of _great_ is more appropriate
to your Father;—

“For still thou ne’er wouldst quite despise
The trifles that I write[36];”

if I may be allowed to shelter myself under the example of Catullus,
my fellow-countryman[37], a military term, which you well understand.
For he, as you know, when his napkins had been changed[38], expressed
himself a little harshly, from his anxiety to show his friendship
for his dear little _Veranius_ and _Fabius_[39]. At the same time
this my importunity may effect, what you complained of my not having
done in another too forward epistle of mine; it will put upon record,
and let all the world know, with what kindness you exercise the
imperial dignity. You, who have had the honour of a triumph, and of
the censorship, have been six times consul, and have shared in the
tribunate; and, what is still more honourable, whilst you held them in
conjunction with your Father, you have presided over the Equestrian
order, and been the Prefect of the Prætorians[40]: all this you have
done for the service of the Republic, and, at the same time, have
regarded me as a fellow-soldier and a messmate. Nor has the extent of
your prosperity produced any change in you, except that it has given
you the power of doing good to the utmost of your wishes. And whilst
all these circumstances increase the veneration which other persons
feel for you, with respect to myself, they have made me so bold, as to
wish to become more familiar. You must, therefore, place this to your
own account, and blame yourself for any fault of this kind that I may

But, although I have laid aside my blushes[41], I have not gained
my object; for you still awe me, and keep me at a distance, by the
majesty of your understanding. In no one does the force of eloquence
and of tribunitian oratory blaze out more powerfully! With what glowing
language do you thunder forth the praises of your Father! How dearly
do you love your Brother! How admirable is your talent for poetry!
What a fertility of genius do you possess, so as to enable you to
imitate your Brother[42]! But who is there that is bold enough to form
an estimate on these points, if he is to be judged by you, and, more
especially, if you are challenged to do so? For the case of those
who merely publish their works is very different from that of those
who expressly dedicate them to you. In the former case I might say,
Emperor! why do you read these things? They are written only for the
common people, for farmers or mechanics, or for those who have nothing
else to do; why do you trouble yourself with them? Indeed, when I
undertook this work, I did not expect that you would sit in judgement
upon me[43]; I considered your situation much too elevated for you to
descend to such an office. Besides, we possess the right of openly
rejecting the opinion of men of learning. M. Tullius himself, whose
genius is beyond all competition, uses this privilege; and, remarkable
as it may appear, employs an advocate in his own defence:—“I do not
write for very learned people; I do not wish my works to be read by
Manius Persius, but by Junius Congus[44].” And if Lucilius, who first
introduced the satirical style[45], applied such a remark to himself,
and if Cicero thought proper to borrow it, and that more especially
in his treatise “De Republica,” how much reason have I to do so, who
have such a judge to defend myself against! And by this dedication
I have deprived myself of the benefit of challenge[46]; for it is a
very different thing whether a person has a judge given him by lot, or
whether he voluntarily selects one; and we always make more preparation
for an invited guest, than for one that comes in unexpectedly.

When the candidates for office, during the heat of the canvass,
deposited the fine[47] in the hands of Cato, that determined opposer
of bribery, rejoicing as he did in his being rejected from what he
considered to be foolish honours, they professed to do this out of
respect to his integrity; the greatest glory which a man could attain.
It was on this occasion that Cicero uttered the noble ejaculation, “How
happy are you, Marcus Porcius, of whom no one dares to ask what is
dishonourable[48]!” When L. Scipio Asiaticus appealed to the tribunes,
among whom was Gracchus, he expressed full confidence that he should
obtain an acquittal, even from a judge who was his enemy. Hence it
follows, that he who appoints his own judge must absolutely submit to
the decision; this choice is therefore termed an appeal[49].

I am well aware, that, placed as you are in the highest station, and
gifted with the most splendid eloquence and the most accomplished
mind, even those who come to pay their respects to you, do it with a
kind of veneration: on this account I ought to be careful that what
is dedicated to you should be worthy of you. But the country people,
and, indeed, some whole nations offer milk to the Gods[50], and those
who cannot procure frankincense substitute in its place salted cakes;
for the Gods are not dissatisfied when they are worshiped by every one
to the best of his ability. But my temerity will appear the greater
by the consideration, that these volumes, which I dedicate to you,
are of such inferior importance. For they do not admit of the display
of genius, nor, indeed, is mine one of the highest order; they admit
of no excursions, nor orations, nor discussions, nor of any wonderful
adventures, nor any variety of transactions, nor, from the barrenness
of the matter, of anything particularly pleasant in the narration, or
agreeable to the reader. The nature of things, and life as it actually
exists, are described in them; and often the lowest department of it;
so that, in very many cases, I am obliged to use rude and foreign, or
even barbarous terms, and these often require to be introduced by a
kind of preface. And, besides this, my road is not a beaten track, nor
one which the mind is much disposed to travel over. There is no one
among us who has ever attempted it, nor is there any one individual
among the Greeks who has treated of all the topics. Most of us seek
for nothing but amusement in our studies, while others are fond of
subjects that are of excessive subtilty, and completely involved in
obscurity. My object is to treat of all those things which the Greeks
include in the Encyclopædia[51], which, however, are either not
generally known or are rendered dubious from our ingenious conceits.
And there are other matters which many writers have given so much in
detail that we quite loathe them. It is, indeed, no easy task to give
novelty to what is old, and authority to what is new; brightness to
what is become tarnished, and light to what is obscure; to render what
is slighted acceptable, and what is doubtful worthy of our confidence;
to give to all a natural manner, and to each its peculiar nature. It
is sufficiently honourable and glorious to have been willing even to
make the attempt, although it should prove unsuccessful. And, indeed,
I am of opinion, that the studies of those are more especially worthy
of our regard, who, after having overcome all difficulties, prefer the
useful office of assisting others to the mere gratification of giving
pleasure; and this is what I have already done in some of my former
works. I confess it surprises me, that T. Livius, so celebrated an
author as he is, in one of the books of his history of the city from
its origin, should begin with this remark, “I have now obtained a
sufficient reputation, so that I might put an end to my work, did not
my restless mind require to be supported by employment[52].” Certainly
he ought to have composed this work, not for his own glory, but for
that of the Roman name, and of the people who were the conquerors
of all other nations. It would have been more meritorious to have
persevered in his labours from his love of the work, than from the
gratification which it afforded himself, and to have accomplished it,
not for his own sake, but for that of the Roman people.

I have included in thirty-six[53] books 20,000 topics, all worthy
of attention, (for, as Domitius Piso[54] says, we ought to make
not merely books, but valuable collections,) gained by the perusal
of about 2000 volumes, of which a few only are in the hands of the
studious, on account of the obscurity of the subjects, procured by the
careful perusal of 100 select authors[55]; and to these I have made
considerable additions of things, which were either not known to my
predecessors, or which have been lately discovered. Nor can I doubt but
that there still remain many things which I have omitted; for I am a
mere mortal, and one that has many occupations. I have, therefore, been
obliged to compose this work at interrupted intervals, indeed during
the night, so that you will find that I have not been idle even during
this period. The day I devote to you, exactly portioning out my sleep
to the necessity of my health, and contenting myself with this reward,
that while we are musing[56] on these subjects (according to the remark
of Varro), we are adding to the length of our lives; for life properly
consists in being awake.

In consideration of these circumstances and these difficulties, I dare
promise nothing; but you have done me the most essential service in
permitting me to dedicate my work to you. Nor does this merely give
a sanction to it, but it determines its value; for things are often
conceived to be of great value, solely because they are consecrated in

I have given a full account of all your family—your Father, yourself,
and your Brother, in a history of our own times, beginning where
Aufidius Bassus concludes[57]. You will ask, Where is it? It has been
long completed and its accuracy confirmed[58]; but I have determined to
commit the charge of it to my heirs, lest I should have been suspected,
during my lifetime, of having been unduly influenced by ambition. By
this means I confer an obligation on those who occupy the same ground
with myself; and also on posterity, who, I am aware, will contend with
me, as I have done with my predecessors.

You may judge of my taste from my having inserted, in the beginning of
my book, the names of the authors that I have consulted. For I consider
it to be courteous and to indicate an ingenuous modesty, to acknowledge
the sources whence we have derived assistance, and not to act as most
of those have done whom I have examined. For I must inform you, that
in comparing various authors with each other, I have discovered, that
some of the most grave and of the latest writers have transcribed,
word for word, from former works, without making any acknowledgement;
not avowedly rivalling them, in the manner of Virgil, or with the
candour of Cicero, who, in his treatise “De Republica[59],” professes
to coincide in opinion with Plato, and in his Essay on Consolation for
his Daughter, says that he follows Crantor, and, in his Offices[60],
Panæcius; volumes, which, as you well know, ought not merely to be
always in our hands, but to be learned by heart. For it is indeed the
mark of a perverted mind and a bad disposition, to prefer being caught
in a theft to returning what we have borrowed, especially when we have
acquired capital, by usurious interest[61].

The Greeks were wonderfully happy in their titles. One work they called
Κηρίον, which means that it was as sweet as a honeycomb; another Κέρας
Ἀμαλθείας, or Cornu copiæ, so that you might expect to get even a
draught of pigeon’s milk from it[62]. Then they have their Flowers,
their Muses, Magazines, Manuals, Gardens, Pictures, and Sketches[63],
all of them titles for which a man might be tempted even to forfeit his
bail. But when you enter upon the works, O ye Gods and Goddesses! how
full of emptiness! Our duller countrymen have merely their Antiquities,
or their Examples, or their Arts. I think one of the most humorous of
them has his Nocturnal Studies[64], a term employed by Bibaculus; a
name which he richly deserved[65]. Varro, indeed, is not much behind
him, when he calls one of his satires A Trick and a Half, and another
Turning the Tables[66]. Diodorus was the first among the Greeks who
laid aside this trifling manner and named his history The Library[67].
Apion, the grammarian, indeed—he whom Tiberius Cæsar called the
Trumpeter of the World, but would rather seem to be the Bell of the
Town-crier[68],—supposed that every one to whom he inscribed any work
would thence acquire immortality. I do not regret not having given my
work a more fanciful title.

That I may not, however, appear to inveigh so completely against the
Greeks, I should wish to be considered under the same point of view
with those inventors of the arts of painting and sculpture, of whom
you will find an account in these volumes, whose works, although they
are so perfect that we are never satisfied with admiring them, are
inscribed with a temporary title[69], such as “Apelles, or Polycletus,
was doing this;” implying that the work was only commenced and still
imperfect, and that the artist might benefit by the criticisms that
were made on it and alter any part that required it, if he had not been
prevented by death. It is also a great mark of their modesty, that they
inscribed their works as if they were the last which they had executed,
and as still in hand at the time of their death. I think there are but
three works of art which are inscribed positively with the words “such
a one executed this;” of these I shall give an account in the proper
place. In these cases it appears, that the artist felt the most perfect
satisfaction with his work, and hence these pieces have excited the
envy of every one.

I, indeed, freely admit, that much may be added to my works; not only
to this, but to all which I have published. By this admission I hope to
escape from the carping critics[70], and I have the more reason to say
this, because I hear that there are certain Stoics and Logicians[71],
and also Epicureans (from the Grammarians[72] I expected as much),
who are big with something against the little work I published on
Grammar[73]; and that they have been carrying these abortions for ten
years together—a longer pregnancy this than the elephant’s[74]. But I
well know, that even a woman once wrote against Theophrastus, a man so
eminent for his eloquence that he obtained his name, which signifies
the Divine speaker[75], and that from this circumstance originated the
proverb of choosing a tree to hang oneself[76].

I cannot refrain from quoting the words of Cato the censor, which are
so pertinent to this point. It appears from them, that even Cato, who
wrote commentaries on military discipline[77], and who had learned the
military art under Africanus, or rather under Hannibal (for he could
not endure Africanus[78], who, when he was his general, had borne away
the triumph from him), that Cato, I say, was open to the attacks of
such as caught at reputation for themselves by detracting from the
merits of others. And what does he say in his book? “I know, that when
I shall publish what I have written, there will be many who will do
all they can to depreciate it, and, especially, such as are themselves
void of all merit; but I let their harangues glide by me.” Nor was the
remark of Plancus[79] a bad one, when Asinius Pollio[80] was said to
be preparing an oration against him, which was to be published either
by himself or his children, after the death of Plancus, in order that
he might not be able to answer it: “It is only ghosts that fight with
the dead.” This gave such a blow to the oration, that in the opinion
of the learned generally, nothing was ever thought more scandalous.
Feeling myself, therefore, secure against these vile slanderers[81], a
name elegantly composed by Cato, to express their slanderous and vile
disposition (for what other object have they, but to wrangle and breed
quarrels?), I will proceed with my projected work.

And because the public good requires that you should be spared as much
as possible from all trouble, I have subjoined to this epistle the
contents of each of the following books[82], and have used my best
endeavours to prevent your being obliged to read them all through. And
this, which was done for your benefit, will also serve the same purpose
for others, so that any one may search for what he wishes, and may
know where to find it. This has been already done among us by Valerius
Soranus, in his work which he entitled “On Mysteries[83].”

The 1st book is the Preface of the Work, dedicated to Titus Vespasian

The 2nd is on the World, the Elements, and the Heavenly Bodies[84].

The 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th books are on Geography, in which is
contained an account of the situation of the different countries,
the inhabitants, the seas, towns, harbours, mountains, rivers, and
dimensions, and the various tribes, some of which still exist and
others have disappeared.

The 7th is on Man, and the Inventions of Man.

The 8th on the various kinds of Land Animals.

The 9th on Aquatic Animals.

The 10th on the various kinds of Birds.

The 11th on Insects.

The 12th on Odoriferous Plants.

The 13th on Exotic Trees.

The 14th on Vines.

The 15th on Fruit Trees.

The 16th on Forest Trees.

The 17th on Plants raised in nurseries or gardens.

The 18th on the nature of Fruits and the Cerealia, and the pursuits
of the Husbandman.

The 19th on Flax, Broom[85], and Gardening.

The 20th on the Cultivated Plants that are proper for food and for

The 21st on Flowers and Plants that are used for making Garlands.

The 22nd on Garlands, and Medicines made from Plants.

The 23rd on Medicines made from Wine and from cultivated Trees.

The 24th on Medicines made from Forest Trees.

The 25th on Medicines made from Wild Plants.

The 26th on New Diseases, and Medicines made, for certain Diseases,
from Plants.

The 27th on some other Plants and Medicines.

The 28th on Medicines procured from Man and from large Animals.

The 29th on Medical Authors, and on Medicines from other Animals.

The 30th on Magic, and Medicines for certain parts of the Body.

The 31st on Medicines from Aquatic Animals.

The 32nd on the other properties of Aquatic Animals.

The 33rd on Gold and Silver.

The 34th on Copper and Lead, and the workers of Copper.

The 35th on Painting, Colours, and Painters.

The 36th on Marbles and Stones.

The 37th on Gems.



[I have adopted the division of the chapters from Hardouin, as given
in the editions of Valpy, Lemaire, Ajasson, and Sillig; the Roman
figures, enclosed between brackets, are the numbers of the chapters
in Dalechamps, De Laët, Gronovius, Holland, and Poinsinet. The titles
of the chapters are nearly the same with those in Valpy, Lemaire, and


The world[86], and whatever that be which we otherwise call the
heavens[87], by the vault of which all things are enclosed, we must
conceive to be a Deity[88], to be eternal, without bounds, neither
created, nor subject, at any time, to destruction[89]. To inquire what
is beyond it is no concern of man, nor can the human mind form any
conjecture respecting it. It is sacred, eternal, and without bounds,
all in all; indeed including everything in itself; finite, yet like
what is infinite; the most certain of all things, yet like what is
uncertain, externally and internally embracing all things in itself; it
is the work of nature, and itself constitutes nature[90].

It is madness to harass the mind, as some have done, with attempts to
measure the world, and to publish these attempts; or, like others, to
argue from what they have made out, that there are innumerable other
worlds, and that we must believe there to be so many other natures,
or that, if only one nature produced the whole, there will be so many
suns and so many moons, and that each of them will have immense trains
of other heavenly bodies. As if the same question would not recur at
every step of our inquiry, anxious as we must be to arrive at some
termination; or, as if this infinity, which we ascribe to nature,
the former of all things, cannot be more easily comprehended by one
single formation, especially when that is so extensive. It is madness,
perfect madness, to go out of this world and to search for what is
beyond it, as if one who is ignorant of his own dimensions could
ascertain the measure of any thing else, or as if the human mind could
see what the world itself cannot contain.


That it has the form of a perfect globe we learn from the name which
has been uniformly given to it, as well as from numerous natural

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